Johnson & Johnson, Bayer drop Fox show advertising after host belittles Parkland student

Fox TV show host Laura Ingraham is under fire for comments aimed at a Parkland student activist. (Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

Johnson & Johnson and Bayer joined more than a dozen consumer brand advertisers last week in dropping out of Fox news show “The Ingraham Angle.”

The brands—including Nestlé, TripAdvisor, Office Depot and Wayfair—canceled media buys on the weekday show after host Laura Ingraham made fun of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg over several college rejections. Hogg has been an outspoken advocate for gun control and reform since the mass shooting at his high school, and along with his fellow protesting students has been a frequent target of the NRA and other anti-gun-control voices.

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J&J had most recently advertised its Janssen division's psoriasis treatment Stelara on the show. The company told the Huffington Post on Thursday that it "will pull advertising from Ms. Ingraham's show." Bayer tweeted on Saturday that it would stop advertising on the show with "no plans to resume any time in the future." Other pharma companies, including AbbVie, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca have also run ads on the show in the past two weeks. Of those, only Pfizer responded to FiercePharma requests for comment by press deadline. Pfizer said it has no comment.

Ingraham’s dismissal of the 17-year-old came in a tweet in which she characterized Hogg’s “whines” over four rejections from colleges the 4.2 GPA-bearing senior had wanted to attend. Hogg had given a TMZ interview in which he said about the turndowns that “it’s not been too great for me” but added he and his fellow students still planned to change the world. The TMZ interviewer stood up for Hogg, noting that he did not whine, but was just answering a question.

Hogg’s response was a tweet listing 12 advertisers, which included Bayer, on "The Ingraham Angle" and encouraging consumers to call and voice their disapproval over Ingraham’s behavior. Ingraham apologized for her comment and later announced she was taking a planned vacation this week. Meanwhile, this weekend, Hogg went on news shows and did interviews calling Ingraham a “bully” and said he would not accept her apology that only came after advertisers began defecting from her show.

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The latest controversy recalls another Fox imbroglio from almost exactly one year ago. In April 2017, pharma companies including GSK, Sanofi and Eli Lilly joined scores of other advertisers in boycotting “The Bill O’Reilly Show” after allegations of the host’s sexual misconduct surfaced. The TV program ended when O’Reilly left Fox later that month.

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